Writer tells tales of horsing around

And just like that, I’m horseless again.

It’s a long story, like all of mine seem to be. If I tried to explain it all to you, Dear Reader, I’d need to start a regularly running miniseries complete with spinoffs. Since the Free Press is a hometown paper without the budget of, say, Netflix, I should probably give you the nutshell version.

Even before we closed on the house, I had the first mare lined up. My friend Tracee bred her and broke her, but her marriage was on the rocks, and Aces needed a place to go. She was mine for free, Tracee said, as long as I promised not to sell her on. DEAL. We threw up some fencing here, then I headed off to Colorado with cash in hand to buy the trailer and bring home my gorgeous grey horse. That ride home will probably be featured right here in this very column soon—it was an adventure all its own.

We hadn’t been here long when the second mare fell into my lap. A friend of a friend was closing on her farm in two weeks and needed “help” placing her herd of a dozen horses, right before winter. Through some great connections both new and old, I managed to find homes for all of them. I even wheedled Darling Hubby into letting me keep one black mare, as a friend for Aces.

I really had every intention of working them both and taking the kids for rides, maybe even in local parades. Life just seemed to get in the way. There was always a reason to not get out in the pen with a saddle. We had a couple of beautiful pasture ornaments that were expert at turning hay into fertilizer. Every so often, they’d escape and terrorize the countryside.

Earlier this year, Tracee asked me if I still had the trailer, and if I’d want to sell it back to her. Her granddaughter wanted to get into horses, you see. Why not, I figured. It’s not like I was going anywhere with them. When she mentioned picking up a pasture buddy for her gelding, a lightbulb went off in my head.

“Why don’t you just take these mares back with you?” I said. “One of them is yours anyway.” She was thrilled. Honestly, after some thought, so was I. Sure, I’d miss them, but not having large livestock at this moment really made sense. We wouldn’t have to worry about my mom having to care for them when she housesits for us, and we wouldn’t have to be concerned about how to get our pastures hayed. Darling Daughter definitely wasn’t bothered by the idea of not having to go out to feed in all sorts of weather.

Loading day dawned warm and sunny. They hitched up the trailer and we went out to catch horses. We tried to load Aces first, because we assumed she’d be easier. After a few false starts and half-ins, we thought we’d give her a break. Maybe if we could get Aurora in, Aces would load because her buddy was already in. For all of the attitude Aurora was known for, none of it was in evidence that day. After a good sniff, she walked calmly up in the trailer like an old pro. Amazing.

Back to trying Aces. She was absolutely not encouraged by her friend’s presence. On one attempt, she threw up her head and bonked it on the roof. She was not amused. I got to hang on to a lead rope run through the front of the trailer. It didn’t take long for me to be thankful for my work gloves, and to wonder if my fingers would ever release from the cramps they were getting from gripping the rope so tightly. We went back and forth as she kept pulling back out of the trailer. Even fresh green grass couldn’t lure her in, and each time she seemed to pull back harder.

A simple butt rope was no good. She somehow knew how to crouch and slip it. Finally, we rigged a squeeze chute with 2 corral panels and a lariat. This seemed to make progress until she somehow figured out how to slip under that too. We backed off to take a breather, then tried it one more time. Finally, she made it in, and we slammed the door shut before she could change her mind.

As the trailer cleared my driveway, I breathed a sigh of relief. With the adrenaline ebbing, I knew that I had made the right choice. The girls were going to a place where they will be cared for, loved on, and most especially, put to work. I’m glad I got to keep them for a while, but they’re where they need to be . . .and so am I. It’s the end of, or at least a pause in, a lifelong dream. Maybe that’s opening the door for another, even better one to happen.

May your best dreams happen for you too.

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